Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Now We'll Qualify for the HOV Lane

I'm not sure how my brother, Kelly, who missed by thismuch sweeping the College of Cardinals (I'm thinking Stanford or Louisville, right? Mark McGwire? Seriously?) and becoming our next Pope (okay, not my next Pope strictly, but some body's) would have found this article yesterday late in the afternoon (actually that's when I saw it and on Facebook that can mean close to nothing or everything) but after my first reading, the seed of doubt was planted. I knew there was room in that hand basket for both of us. As a matter I insisted on it.

It took me a while to get to the article and through it. I mean, it's competing for my eyeballs with an update on the The Undertaker's health for cripes sake (is a cripe like a snipe, or just a poorly pronounced crepe? I say it but I don't know what it is). I was relieved to read 'everything's good in the hood' according to his wife (who is not called Mrs. Undertaker) who would know, right?

I admire the stony resolution and insistent fortitude of Michael Paulkovich but I am not rushing to stand any closer to him than our current positions on this orb, just in case the Smite Light comes on. I probably wouldn't have enough time to say, "see? Told ya!"

I struggle with my faith, and more often than not fall and don't get up either quickly or easily, but I'm not sure how much good all your research does you when you come to the place where the road and the sky collide.

Come December, Mike, I'm gonna kick in a couple of bucks and get the little guy a few presents for his birthday. In light of where the party always is, I'm thinking maybe a 4-H membership. And Kelly, stick around, brother; I'm not sure we've heard the last word.
-bill kenny

Monday, September 29, 2014


Not happy the Yankees season ended with them not in the play-offs for the second straight year. I'd hope Mo, last season and Jeter, this season, might have had a chance to ride ff into the sunset in a blaze of glory rather than a Yugo, but it is what it is and that's all it was meant to be, I guess.

This might cheer up Yankees fans: Alex Rodriguez is back-he was suspended for their entire season to include the play-offs, which they didn't make so he's back on the team. No, he's not my guy either, but then again neither was Clemons or Wade Boggs if we're getting down to brass tacks.

And if you want to get righteously biblical about all of this, he was punished and his punishment is over so his slate is wiped clean. And believe me, if he leads the Bronx Bombers back to the play-offs to say nothing of the World Series, you can bet your sweet youknowhat that all will be forgiven.

Today we are exactly 189 days away from 2015 Opening Day activities. Admittedly here in the Northeast we have to get through fall and winter and a reasonable amount of spring, but we shall and we will. And if it helps at all, this is national coffee day. You'd think with the way we drink it, it's be a religious holiday. Think of it as the Feast of the Caffeinated Epiphany. Alleluia.
-bill kenny

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Never Offer Excuses

Derek Jeter didn’t quite catch the Dalai Lama, but he placed just below Jeff Bezos as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. Not bad for a youngster from Jersey, who grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan and came of age in the white-hot media spotlight of New York City, as the shortstop for its American League franchise, the New York Yankees.

I was a fan of baseball before I was a fan of New York Yankees baseball and it’s been close to five and half decades since my father brought home an Alvin Dark autographed leather baseball glove from Rawlings for me. One sniff of the glove, with apologies to Spinal Tap, was all it took. Alvin Dark was a New York Giant when they played at the Polo Grounds and managed the San Francisco Giants when they called Candlestick Park home. All of that is gone, to never return.

Today, weather permitting, the defending World Champions, Boston Red Sox, practically the first team eliminated from the playoffs this year, will close a disappointing season in what would have been a quiet afternoon game at 1:30 against Jeter and the Yankees. This will be last time any of us see Jeter play. I'm thinking the Red Sox know this and nothing short of a storm force ten will cause this game to NOT be played.

My brother Adam had some transcendent words on Jeter, on the field and beyond the field, earlier in the week that you should really read. Keith Olbermann of ESPN has some words that are best avoided, but if you insist; I would offer that Keith has a point (but when he wears a hat, you can’t see it).

I’m still digesting the cover story from the current Sports Illustrated (yet another issue without Kate Upton on the cover wearing a smile, a come hither look and little else). I’ve convinced myself that by delaying the full reading of it, and (of course) DVRing (is that a gerund now? I hope so) the game, I can avoid that final goodbye when this all stops.

Except when it’s over, and end it must (and shall), Derek Jeter will still be Derek Jeter. Baseball will still, and always, be baseball, and you and I will have our memories of a thousand moments large and small that helped mold a career but could never define a life.

It will be a long winter but as the song suggests, diamonds are forever and Spring Training 2015 will be waiting for us even as the snows melt. There will be one less set of footsteps out there between second and third base but the game, and the man whose joy in playing it was so evident, will carry on.

-bill kenny

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Boys and their Toys

The add-on lenses for my cell phone camera arrived I'm thinking last Friday or Saturday. I don't have any way of gauging it closer because we were on the road or already at Niagara Falls when the postman knocked.

I was really hoping the lenses, ordered via a Facebook advert, would arrive before we had headed off but, bad luck, they didn't, until I got to thinking about struggling in the boat at the Falls and the wind rushing around a boatload of us as we approached Horseshoe Falls.

I was really glad that I hadn't elevated the degree of difficulty in all of that by struggling with little tiny metal and glass objects that attach magnetically to the cellphone body and assist the lens in doing tricks.

I got a macro-focus lens that is quite cool for intensely up-close and personal work as well as a fish eye so I can pretend to be artistic. I may not be fooling as many people as I once hoped to be doing but I do like the effect based on this shot of the Falls, albeit the one near our house when I took this picture earlier in the week.

It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools. Thank goodness, I'm not a craftsman-the camera in the phone is nearly as weak a link as the operator behind the eyepiece. But sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
-bill kenny

Friday, September 26, 2014

Attention Shoppers!

If you’re heading out this weekend with retail in your heart, pardon me for attempting to hijack your agenda but consider stopping by an independent record shop (not a CD collection section in your nearest discount retailer because even though you think you’re saving money and living better, you aren’t and the folks who work there aren’t either).

In  my neck of the woods we shop here (they have some truly amazing stuff even if their website is a skosh outdated) and you have a place just like it near you so go forth and search out George Harrison’s The Apple Years CD reissue package that’s just arrived on the shelves this week. 

If, like me, you enjoy listening to music while reading about it, check out this inspired (if perhaps just for me, a little disquieting) performance from earlier in the week by George’s son, Dhani Harrison. The look and sound both vocally and instrumentally is his father so much so I’m almost, but not quite, distracted from enjoying his performance. 

I just realized everyone but Paul McCartney had a son who followed his father into the business (except John Lennon, who had two, who both did). Talk about stressed for success and triumphing despite it.

I’m sorry if you’re younger than forty and don’t understand or enjoy the way us geezers and codgers become Apple Scruffs when it comes to The Beatles.  Over half a century ago, when I was the ripe old age of eleven and a half (technically more like three quarters; fractions were important then) they landed on The Ed Sullivan Show and all of us lost our minds. I’m pretty sure I never found mine and never missed it either.

As the bumper sticker suggests, “The great thing about being old is we had all the cool music.” And every generation throws a hero up the pop chart so your time and turn are coming. Let me leave you with this smile for today. No need to thank me; someone has to watch out for you whippersnappers.

-bill kenny

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Possessing a Cat’s Sense of History

I’m not sure what it’s called in schools these days, assuming it’s taught at all, but American History was serious stuff when I wandered the hallowed halls of high school.  At one point when our children were that age, I think it was called social studies or perhaps civics. I have no idea why.

I’m not sure how educationally we evolved past it or through it or around it. But we did and look at us now and how well we’ve done. I think about the George Santayana admonition from Reason in Common Sense and fear most of us either think he’s Carlos’ dad or (even more likely) have no idea what anything in this paragraph means.

And then you read about this heavily-reported exploitation of a tragic and dark moment in pursuit of corporate publicity and profit and wonder, as I did, how easy can it be to forget what you never knew in the first place?

-bill kenny     

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Footfalls of Autumn

If you are observing Rosh Hashanah this evening, Happy New Year!

And if you’re celebrating the first day of Autumn, today, now is a good time to do an inventory of your comfortable footwear and layered clothing because we are days away from The Month Not On The Calendar But Should Be, Walktober, helping provide some of those great memories we’ll need to get through the coming winter days.

Walktober is almost a quarter of a century old, but has aged quite well. I’m thinking that’s because of all the fresh air, the interesting sights to see and things to do across The Last Green Valley, TLGV, of which Norwich is a part.

TLGV are the people who created Walktober to help those of us who live here to celebrate ourselves as both guests and hosts of intriguing people and fascinating places across the region that you’ll find irresistible.

In this age of technology if your smart phone already has “the app,” a lot of this is a review, but if you don’t or if you prefer a more human touch, there are Walktober Information Centers throughout the area with one right here in Norwich, at the Daniel Lathrop Schoolhouse on East Town Street, facing the Norwichtown Green.

When you’re getting out your wandering shoes have an extra pair or two because TLGV really puts a lot of walk in Walktober. In Norwich alone according to their brochure, there are five events and 39 walks throughout the month.

It starts a week from today, October 1st, at ten in the morning with the Norwich Millionaires’ Triangle, beginning at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick with walkers admiring some of the grand houses along Broadway and Washington Street and learning about the famous families who lived in them during the latter half of the 19th Century.

Throughout October, you can take part in educational and informative jaunts just about every day throughout the region to include wanderings where you’re welcome to bring your dog, or others where you’ll ride your bicycle and even others where you’ll use your canoe or kayak.  I’m not sure if there’s one that allows bike-riding dogs into a canoe, but you could always ask when you visit an Information Center.

You’ll walk a lot. Trust me. I was two inches taller before last year’s events; that’s how many I went on, though my sense of hyperbole seems to have survived intact. I enjoyed every single opportunity to walk across this city in which I live (and thought I knew) especially when I learned at least a half-dozen new things on every visit, from the Golden Clock Tower through the Fish Lift to a Jaunt Along the Heritage Trail and the Dog Park.

Choose from the Leffingwell House Museum, Benedict Arnold, Zombies (!), the Legend of Uncas Leap and The Future Vision of Norwich, to name but a few; every step and every stop designed to help us make our collective history part of our own personal story.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sleeping with Your New-Found Faith

Thirty-one years ago today, I turned in the flight cap for which we clever enlisted people had a cunningly obscene alternate name, slid the blue belt out of the khaki-keepers on the slacks for the last time and returned myself to the ranks of civilian after eight years of active (for the most) duty in the United States Air Force.

I like to remember it as a moment of altruism and self-sacrifice. As I said at the time and meant as close to sincerely as I ever get, I wasn’t greedy; it was someone else’s turn to serve his country. 

I had traveled half way around the world from the armadillos (and a few peccadilloes) of Texas at San Antonio through the summer of The Big Race and Nothing Else in India No Place to the white wastelands of Greenland and unceasing speculation waiting for the seventeen days of summer as to why in hell anyone would want to be here in the first place all the way to the Federal Republic of Germany and the woman I was to meet and marry.

Unlike the armadillo and penguin, I so glibly promised a solemn younger sibling who suspected more than knew just how large a goober his oldest brother was, the wife was real, as were the children who followed the union. As a unit, they presented a pretty eloquent argument to choose door number two instead of taking a right at the light and going straight through the night though I do recall the following day and struggling to answer the getting-dressed question of “what goes with dark blue? Oh yeah, more dark blue.”   

I’ve always thought of it as ‘two decades or so since I left the Air Force’ until I sat down to write this and realized it’s been a skosh way more than that, so much more that in truth, I’ve been out longer than I had been on Earth when I chose to get out. 

No matter how you slice it, that’s a long time ago and I’m still waiting for the final cut mindful, as always that the second show is often completely different from the first.

-bill kenny   

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sofa, So Good

When I saw it last week, it cracked me side-wise.

This photo, taken in June, could have easily been entitled, “Dad takes Mom to meet his boss and all I got was this lousy couch cushion.” I’m old enough to be able to envision, back in the days of Camelot, when a Kennedy child might well have done the same thing. We were then a very different land of the free and home of the brave but then again, those were very different times.

The White House has been careful to not identify anyone in the photo except to note the occasion was a departing Secret Service agent prior to his new assignment wanting his spouse and son to meet the man he protected for a living.

Hand on my heart, I’m not sure if I were the young man’s age I could resist the temptation to do as he did. Heck, I’m not sure I’d be able to not do it now. As for what exactly was going on, I think we can both guess what that youngster was looking for under the couch cushions

I’m just grateful he didn’t bite the usherette’s leg in the dark.

-bill kenny  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Horse Poop, Hospitals and Health Insurance

We’re a long way from Hippocrates, who by the way is NOT accepting new patients. Speaking of which I’m just about out of patience with the business practices of Healthcare Inc., or as it’s usually known, life in these United States.

Unlike about 42 million fellow-citizens, I have health insurance with a not inconsequential portion of the premiums paid for by my employer, as part of what I will always insist is a Social Contract, one of the many each of us has in our lives with our family members, places of residence, businesses and our neighbors. That, too is part of life in these parts.

I don’t pretend to know if “Healthcare” (capitalized to denote Serious Intent, which is actually access to affordable care, is a ‘right’ or an ‘expense driving business to relocate elsewhere’ as is becoming a recurring theme of one of the knuckleheads running for Governor of the state in which I live) but I’m reasonably sure it is a necessity. 

Right now, the multi-billion dollar conglomerate that is my healthcare insurer, is arguing ferociously with the multi-million dollar corporation that operates my neighborhood hospital over how much is enough money for my care and healing (though in truth neither of those enters into the bottom line of either of them). 

Every single one of my doctors, and I have what looks like cast of Entourage in white lab coats, have privileges in my hospital. I am not alone, probably times eight to thousand households across the region; that, too, is of no interest to the suits on either side in the boardroom on the 83rd floor that are negotiating fees and rates one will pay the other for the next defined period of time and benefits.

As it is, if both sides don’t come to an agreement by the end of this month, by the end of NEXT month, I and my family and many, many others will face choices like do I wish to pay more for what is now an ‘out of network’ provider or do I seek new health care offerings, or entertain changing my insurance.

None of this has anything to do with health care in a way that any sentient human being would ever understand. It has to do with return on investment for those who buy health insurance company stock as well as those who park dollars in the corporations who operate medical facilities and whose money is what makes money for them (no sweat of their brow is ever expended; no good or service is produced this is all the triumph of Green Mail and Mammon).

When I was a wee slip of a lad, when I’d get sick or hurt my parents would call Dr. Alice D. Tyndall, whose passing I did not know of until hitting ‘search’ five seconds ago and which pains me immensely because she was a remarkable human being. Read about her here.

Here’s what the obit doesn’t tell you: she made house calls with a beaten-up bag of magic and miracles that not only always made me and at the time, my younger sister, Evan, feel better but our Mom, too.  House calls went the way of high-button shoes, but I’d bet Dr. Tyndall and her cohorts still made them despite the patients per hour mantra of all the slicksters, tricksters and bean-counters in three-piece suits who argued with her over every nickel.
All that happens in today's 'health care market,' and I‘m telling you something you already know, is deductibles escalate, exclusions proliferate and co-pays continue to increase. And that is what’s going to happen in this case. Any form of  improvement in actual care will be coincidental at best.

The health insurance company knows it, the hospital knows it and here’s the secret, guys, so do I. So spare me and mine the trauma and the drama, cut your deal and send me the updated benefits brochure extolling intangibles such as added value for shareholders, none of which has anything to do with me but all of which I will pay for now and later if not forever until my own forever runs out.  

-bill kenny

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hilarity Didn't Quite Ensue

I had doctors’ appointments earlier in the week. Being old and all means I no longer need to subscribe to magazines but can catch up on my reading in one of any number of waiting rooms I find myself in (as long as I don’t mind that the magazines are "vintage," as am I come to think of it).

That meant last week, I needed to visit a local blood drawing site, twice, one fasting and the other slowing (or whatever medical people call it when you have eaten, perhaps ‘sated’). 

Because my primary care physician organizes my team of specialists instead of getting bullied by them which happened with her predecessor for a number of years, I visit the blood site far less frequently (last year I went 24 separate times; I should have purchased stock in test tube manufacturers).

When I popped in during the late afternoon, I was the only client (insert your own “they had run out of patience/patients joke here __) and I zipped right in with a phlebotomist I’d not seen before, but it had been about four months or so since my last visit.

Sometimes I can watch myself careen out of control in a social intercourse situation, mindful that it is happening and that I am powerless to stop it. It feels like it’s a slow-motion underwater movie that's happening to someone else, somewhere else, except it isn't. If it’s a gift I’d certainly like to take it back to the store and pick out a sweater, even an ugly one.

The phlebotomist was considerably more than diligent in following procedures (I’m leaning towards ‘obsessive’ someone who is)  and I fear that’s what encouraged my evil twin, Skippy, to become involved. It was already awkward, in terms of small talk, when I had to initial the labels on the test tubes after my blood had been drawn and was in them. 

I’ve grown accustomed to scribbling my initials on labels while they’re all on the sheet before any of the drill goes on but as it turns out, this is how it is supposed to be done, sir. (bold letters suggest ‘we brook no discussion’ and we didn’t)  

A few jokes about how the red of my blood seemed to bring out the blue in the black ink of my initials had no visible effect on the clinician. It was like playing to an oil painting. I can rise to a challenge like that and the urine sample was my opportunity. As a diabetic, I’m keenly aware of the specimen drill and find it to be within my envelope of competence.

Walking away from me at the drawing station to the far side of the room where she kept her supplies inventory the clinician held up the infamous “make sure the cap is on tightly” specimen container and asked me to fill it. 

“From here?” I asked brightly, "how many chances  do I get?" Had she been standing on a chair the joke would have still gone over her head. In hindsight, I think I may have actually said that out loud to her. It would explain her stony silence.  

At that point I was willing to depart, nursing my wounded pride as a failed humorist but instead she and I circled the bridge, so to speak for another five minutes while she struggled to understand what I kept assuring her was nothing more than humor. 

In the end, I left thinking the next wave of health care professionals is very different, if not downright strange, and she for her part probably arriving at the same conclusion about patients. Sadly, I fear we are both right.

-bill kenny    

Friday, September 19, 2014

Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day and if Dave Barry never waves at you from the Honorary Chairman's Float in the annual parade because there isn't one, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

Short of nailing a passed-on parrot to your shoulder, wearing a bandanna and an eye patch (and trousers where required by law), I'm not not sure there is a standard way of observing/celebrating today that the Captain Morgan folks don't already have an endorsement deal for, but good luck.

I'm reminded of my favorite Halloween joke involving pirates that has a somewhat elderly matron opening  her front door in response to a ringing door bell. That's where she confronts a youngster with a Jolly Roger on his black tri-cornered hat, a peg leg and an eye patch, waving a scabbard and shouting "Trick or Treat Lady!"

'And whom are you supposed to be?' she asked with just a faint hint of a smile.
"A pirate, lady!" the tyke answered boisterously, "Trick or Treat!"
'Well,' she said, 'so you're a pirate? Where are your buccaneers young man?' "Under my bucking' hat, lady; are you gonna gimee some candy or not?"

Shiver your own timbers, me hearties. Ain't no room on board for the insincere.
-bill kenny

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Chill and Creep Begin Again

Just the other day on my way out in the morning, I had to double-back and grab a light jacket out of our hallway closet. Separately and yet simultaneously, my perception of summer's end and the date on the calendar aligned perfectly. Cannot claim to be too happy about that.

Make no mistake, here in Southern New England, we have all four seasons, sometimes it seems on the same day but we have an opportunity to enjoy all that nature has to offer, even if, like me, we're not especially fond of that amount of choice.

If you're an outdoors (wo)man who enjoys skiing, sledding or ice-skating and burying people you dislike alive in avalanches, don't be too upset if I tell you that Winter is not my time of year. But, in fairness, neither is Autumn despite the crispness of the air, the colors of the sky and the riotous shades of leaves in the trees.

I know how the movie ends and when Winter finally brings the curtain down, I am not as happy to be in the theater as I might have hoped. Does that mean I'm one of those who starts to fret after we've had the summer equinox and slowly and inexorably the days' light does a sleight of hand as it slowly decreases?

Afraid so. I leave you to count the silver linings; I am on the look-out for dark clouds and it always seems to be a target-rich environment. Thus, the wearing of a light jacket is the soft tread of the inevitable footfall of the changing of the season. Soon, my mood will match the evening sky after the sun has gone to bed.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Differences and Distinctions

Growing old if not up in the Space Age, I’ve learned a couple of things from the NASA astronauts and their travels and travails: Tang does not mix well with vodka (unless you have a blender it gets lumpy) and the farther out into space you go, the more alike those of us down here all look.

Actually, thanks to science we know that we live on the third planet from the Sun, and the fourth smallest in our solar system. That’s important to keep in mind because for a relatively small place, there sure are a lot of us, about 7 and a half billion. So when we talk as we often do in moments of frustration or anxiety about going to the ends of the earth to get some peace and quiet, we should realize there’s probably already somebody there, looking for the same thing.

Actually far less grand than a search for inner peace but infinitely more valuable and useful is working on the  ways and means to tear down walls and build bridges between and among us. We can’t just talk the talk; we have to make sure we are walking the walk.

Next Tuesday from 5 to 8 PM, we have that opportunity thanks to the Norwich Rotary’s Celebrate Diversity event at Howard T. Brown Park. Heinz claims to have 57 varieties of pickles but Norwich households ask for them in close to three dozen different languages. And as different as we may be, diversity may be the one thing we all have in common.  

Celebrate Diversity offers food and entertainment representing Norwich's cultural diversity. Last year’s event offered Lebanese, Cape Verdian, Greek, Indian, Italian, Jamaican, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine from restaurants throughout the city and region and organizers say this year will be bigger and better. 

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $20 each through Bonnie Hong, drceo@aol.com, or at the event Tuesday for $25. It’s not just food and fun as the Lotte B. Scott Diversity Award will also be presented.

At a time when national headlines about Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown starkly underscore how great the degree and depth of separation is in so many communities, next Tuesday you can help redefine the conversation we should be having across the country about what kind of a nation we wish to be. 

As Robert Palmer sang, “It Takes Every Kinda People” to make what life’s about. That means each of us, and all of us, have some heavy lifting to do on a daily basis to assure our world, our nation and our community is a place with dignity and respect for all of us who live here.

There’s strength in unity, flavored with the spice in diversity, defined I read the other day, as “points of difference,” “unalikeness” and “multiformity.” Sounds like a nearly perfect description for Tuesday’s Celebrate Diversity which falls on the first day of autumn. Perhaps Mother Nature is signaling change is good and is already on the way. It can happen.    

-bill kenny

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Maybe Just Guns and Money

I suppose I could ask my brother Adam blogger extraordinaire whose career in jurisprudence (and Dear Prudence, for good measure) stretches back a number of years and whose skills as an attorney are beyond question but I admit to being surprised to learning that there's a dress code for lawyers.

I didn't mean to make that read quite as Sticksville as it does, and I apologize. I know fry cooks are supposed to wear long trouser, probably in the interests of breeding future generations of fry cooks, and every attorney I've ever met (and not necessarily just at arraignments) is always dressed in a very formal manner, so maybe I should be more surprised at my own surprise.

The pursuit of justice is a serious business, and I imagine the argument can be made that those involved in it should dress the part, so having admitted all of that, I come across Todd Glickfield, an attorney in Marion, Indiana, and am stumped (or stupid, I'm not sure which; and I'm not sure which one of us is).

I spent one summer in Indiana, actually in Indianapolis, thirty-nine summers ago so my impressions of the state may be skewed or flawed, but everyone seemed nice, and neatly dressed so I don't know what to make of Todd's malfunction.

I should tell you that, given the opportunity, I would wear socks with sandals because that's how I roll. It's not, however, how the Love of My Life would, so I don't wear a lot of sandals, but I'm not sure how Todd protects his feet from the insides of shoes.

In light of the current relationship between Attorney Glickman and the Blackford Circuit Court, where he practices, not sure were I to be a defendant shopping for an advocate I'd choose Todd, because since I'm already in enough legal trouble to have the dogs of law barking at my heels not sure having someone wearing liverwurst aftershave, metaphorically speaking, enhances my opportunities to remain on the visitor's side of jail cell bars.

As I said, Todd, socks complement shoes, and the entire ensemble and are awfully handy to have in a pinch to clean the ventilator blades.
-bill kenny

Monday, September 15, 2014

Still on the Hit Parade

It almost passed me by without my realization so I apologize for both of us, unless that was you trying to flag me down yesterday on the Internet to talk about the Bicentennial of the Star Spangled Banner. Yeah, didn't think so.

Two hundred years ago yesterday, capping in a defiant manner their successful defense of the Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland from the same British attacks that had burned the White House in Washington D. C. less than two weeks earlier, the garrison at Fort McHenry lowered their storm flag that had flown all night through the bombardment and raised the Great Garrison Flag the sight of which inspired Francis Scott Key to pen "Defense of Fort M'Henry" describing the battle and detailing the celebration that followed in the morning.

Since even then, we were not a nation known for reciting poetry aloud and/or in unison, it was set to music, a real-tapper popularly known as "To Anacreon in Heaven" after which the men and women of the United States of America took it on the road where it played quite successfully since those early days of the Republic through to the present.

You can find the flag that inspired Key at the National Museum of American History in our nation's capital. I remember seeing it when my father would take us to Washington D. C., and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the song were still available on iTunes.
-bill kenny

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Smite Makes Right

I just realized the humor and serendipity of all of this falling on a Sunday, especially in light of the headline on the article that caught my eye. It’s purely accidental, unless of course (whispered in my most subversive voice), none of it is accidental. And when the universe seems to have a plan and runs like a clock, what then of The Clockmaker?

All topics for another time, at least for me.
As a former member of the US Air Force, briefly though not without some physical and emotional pain for nearly everyone in a leadership position who encountered me for the eight years I was in the play, this item in Air Force Times boggled my mind (insert your own sound effect).

Do I need to confess that as a grade-schooler I and every one of my classmates pledged allegiance to the flag at an age approaching but not approximating reason with very little understanding of the meaning of the word ‘pledge’ much less ‘allegiance.’

I’m also the guy who scrolls down to check the empty box confirming ‘I accept and understand blah, blah, blah…’ on all end user agreements (EULA) for computer programs and smartphone applications without EVER reading a single one of them (Have you ever tried? What does any of it mean?).

If there’s anything about sacrificing a child or crawling like a reptile on my belly, please let me know and I might have to reconsider deleting those programs. But only might.  

Meanwhile, we’re about to make the UFC and MMA look like a tea-dance at a girls’ school on the Upper East Side in terms of level of violence against ISIL but we’re gonna bar “an unnamed atheist Airman” (AUAA) from staying in the Air Force while we do this. Huh?

Seems to me, reading the story, he (she?), let’s just go with AUAA, may be the only person in the gathering storm who can legitimately claim to NOT have a dog in this hunt, especially if AUAA is a dyslexic (did you see what I did there? I believe that’s called ‘clever by a half.’).

Of course as the actor “looking for a sign that the Universal Mind has written you into the Passion Play,” you have to wonder if a walk-on part in this instance is not actually superior to a speaking role or might that cause some to doubt your sincerity or your sanity.
-bill kenny

Saturday, September 13, 2014

No Place Like Om

I like to think I’m a mellow fellow as I enter my autumnal years. I’d also like to think I’m six feet tall, but if I bought trousers based on that belief, I wouldn’t need to wear shoes if you follow my drift. Yeah, the line between healthy self-construct and delusions of adequacy tends to disappear out here in the weeds pretty quickly when you’re cruising at sixty plus and I’m not talking about in a car.

I admire the California Casual of what I understand to be Buddhism-the article describes it as more a philosophy of life than an organized religion. Truth to tell, my growing up in the Roman Catholic faith was way more than an “organized” religion, it was closer to ‘double-time harch!’ The Good Lord may have given me free will but Sister Mary Jean had little inclination to let me use it.

My stumbling block with achieving enlightenment through Buddhism isn’t religious or philosophic, it’s entomological. It’s one thing for me to shrug off a gnat buzzing in my ear as part of The Bigger Plan, but I draw the line at creepy-crawlies like silverfish and cockroaches. They make me want to hurl and I am never happy to encounter them.

They are ugly-I assume they feel the same way about me and if our sizes were reversed, I have little doubt they would be stepping on me, to the point of stomping, because that’s what I do when I see them. Talk about Riverdance

That moment of ‘here’s another traveler on our shared planet…I wonder what the journey holds for you, grasshopper’ happens, if at all, only in hindsight. (And I’m still waiting on it, so Bob's your uncle and there's your answer.)

I surprised one or the other, I didn’t have glasses on but I did have my high-pitched shrieky voice with me, the other morning as I hopped around the shower at work wearing a pair of flip-flops, a panicked expression and precious little else. 

If they made Rain-X for eyeglasses, I’d see every one of these booger-bears from a hundred meters away but until they do, I step and stomp on barely-seen critters at least 300 bazillion times, reducing them to their sub-atomic particles in the process.

If you or someone you know believes in reincarnation which as I understand it entails a number of stops on the Great Wheel as you head toward The Center and true enlightenment (and not all of those stops are promotions, so to speak), you might want to commit to memory now to avoid me or future me’s in any next life encounters. 

Because instead of becoming one with the universe should we encounter one another, I’ll attempt to make you one with a piece of ceramic tile, and will worry about the consequences of sola fide vice shoe soles only when forced to.
-bill kenny          

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman

For years, “The Nanny” was a laugh-out-loud guilty pleasure of mine. The only other person on the show I paid any attention to aside from the butler Daniel Davis was, of course, Fran Drescher whose voice at what she projected to be her most sultry (I’m sure) was fingernails on a chalkboard. Ah, the reassuring nasality of “tall Paul poured water.”

I hadn’t thought about her in many years and, catching up on my research, I am delighted that her career hasn’t suffered as a result of my neglect. A cancer survivor she has earned every ounce of  happiness she has and so I was pleased to read over the past weekend she had gotten married to (and this was the part that most piqued my curiosity), the “Inventor of Email”, Shiva Ayyadurai.

In light of the fact that I persist in claiming to be the inventor of both texting and electricity, and the co-inventor of that lifesaving device used by divers who get the bends, the hyperbolic chamber (or something like it), far be it from me to rain on the newlyweds’ parade in contesting the invention of email (lower case deliberate).

Instead, allow me to quote from a passage of the book of Python, Monty; and good luck you crazy kids,  burrowing through that elephant.

-bill kenny 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

When the Sun Rises Tomorrow

I regard calendars more as mirrors reflecting what has been rather than as windows allowing us to look forward. I’ve known that tomorrow is September 11, a day whose arrival you dread months before it gets here. A day when all words fail and in the silence that remains are only remembrance of dark deeds. 

September 11 is much more than a day on a calendar page where memories of thirteen years ago remain as fresh as the instant at which they first happened.
So overwhelming are our individual and collective recollections of what we've come to call 9/11, nearly forgotten at times are the human beings beyond New York’s World Trade Center, the deaths and damage at the Pentagon and the total destruction near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the end of Flight 93.

Long ago, somewhere in our shared history we forgot that people who have nothing to live for will always find something to die for; and then they will want you to die for it, too. 9/11 makes sure we shall now always remember.

As Sir Winston Churchill observed a lifetime before carnage and catastrophe rained down on New York’s Lower East Side, 'a fanatic is someone who cannot change his mind and will not change the subject.' The pain of learning that lesson could only be exceeded by the pain of failing to remember what we have learned.

Tomorrow’s black spot on our calendar is nothing compared to the hurt that will never heal. For anyone with friends and family who went to work that day, boarded a plane, rode a bus, were those selfless emergency responders, or anyone else who had an errand taking them into the death and destruction, the pain will never ease and the memories will never cease.

For some, 9/11 is a national day of service (to others and to the ideals upon which we were founded). That speaks to both who we are and who we should strive to be: the greatest nation on earth that so many others everywhere believe us to be.

We will triumph, as a nation, as a culture, as a way of life- not because we have more bombs and bullets, though there's a place and, again, pressing reasons for both (and each of us knows young men and women in, or heading into, harm's way at this moment who need both) but because of who we are in moments of great peril, of eminent danger and in continuing sorrow and loss.

We will triumph because we define ourselves by listening to our better angels and focusing on what we have yet to do, not dwelling on the evil visited upon us. And because of that we shall always win, and those who hate us will always lose.

As Bruce Springsteen offered, "Spirits above and behind me/Faces gone, black eyes burnin' bright/May their precious blood forever bind me/Lord as I stand before your fiery light."
-bill kenny

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Your Secret Life of Indiscreet Discretions

Ray Rice,

When you do this to another human being, this is the absolute least that should happen to you.

Stephen Biscotti and Roger Goddell,

Some people do the right thing for the right reasons instinctively. Others have to be shamed into it. Thanks for illustrating the difference and the distinction.

Janay Palmer,

When people stay with people who hurt them, only bad happens. Leave now and don't look back. Better a horrible ending than horrors without end.

American Sports Fans,

If you could see yourself now. Equal parts frenzy, fury and fantasy, all packaged as entertainment. Welcome to Bread & Circuses, Population: us.
-bill kenny

Monday, September 8, 2014

Shifting of the Seasons

Spent some time mentally rearranging the contents of our garage Saturday after mowing the yard, front and back, for what I sincerely hope is the last time in 2014. Mowing the lawn is a lot like shaving, in my opinion; no matter how well you do (and no one has ever accused of doing either well), you will need to do it again. And again....

It was warm and humid in these parts on Saturday-far more pleasant on Sunday but we're approaching the time of year where, in our memory, in the months to come, the weather now was wonderful. I tend to bleat piteously about how unbearable the humidity is from July onwards, but when we have snow and ice to my nether regions in February, I complain about that as well.

I've lived in the Northeast my whole life, but it doesn't stop me from whining about the winter's cold and the summer's heat and humidity. I hate autumn not for autumn but for what I know follows. We lived in the center of Land Hesse when we lived in Germany, a region that also has all four regions and still I bellyached, aber auf deutsch.

As I surveyed the garage yesterday I made sure I was leaving enough room to park the lawnmower in the corner and move the snow blower to the front of rear wall as that's the next machinery use in our neck of the woods. Unless, of course, that comet/asteroid someone is always warning us about actually scores a direct hit. Leaving me to wonder what I'm gonna do with all that chain lube I've been stockpiling for the winter. Got a great deal on it, too.
-bill kenny

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dylan Got there First

I wish I had a conscience so I could feel bad about not putting my free weekends to better use, or truth to tell some practical use at all. Yesterday underscore the whole point. After I mowed the lawn, not a euphemism for anything, and showered off and changed into fresh clothes, I joined our daughter, Michelle, in a hike to Howard T. Brown Park (the "T" is for savings, I'm told and is usually silent if not often invisible) for the annual first Saturday of September street fest held in the park, A Taste of Italy.

The area restaurants and the Italian Heritage community go all out for this one-day Canoliapolloza and folks come from everywhere.  Michelle very much enjoys the garlic knots and seeing people she knows from her work. This year she had a game where she gave herself one point  for every customer she recognized and a bonus point for every one whose name she knew. She was racking up the points when last I checked.

I enjoy the chance to hang out with her because she's a busy person and my life is slowly slowing down and because I also enjoy the walk, though yesterday with the afternoon temperatures approaching ninety and the humidity not far behind, it wasn't the most fun I've ever had.

This is more of what I came for, Watching the River Flow.

-bill kenny

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Place in Space

I was reminded yesterday morning that while we are social animals we are also most comfortable alone in our own skin. I was at my gym (not really mine, but a Planet Fitness a fourteen-minute walk from my house, not that I ever walk to it, otherwise why go to the gym?) and got into a conversation with someone in the locker room, whom (as it happens) I know from work.

The joke here being that would that I had, indeed, known him from work; but I didn’t. He had to remind me, while shaking off the sting of his remembering me but me NOT recalling him and I feigned remembrance and pleasure I didn’t feel at seeing him again. I suspect I was less than convincing judging from his facial expression.

He mentioned he’d seen me ‘around’ and was going to say hi but he always hesitated since I seemed to be paying especially close attention to my headphones. I manufactured some synthetic excuse that incorporated the ear buds (I think that’s more accurately the term though who should I ask if unsure) and preparing for something ‘at work’ (in the gym at ten after four in the morning because everyone does that) and headed for the treadmill ending, at least for now and perhaps for another year or so (that’s how long I’ve almost been a member), our conversation.

Out on the machine, over (simulated) hill, over (virtual) dale, though without any semblance of a dusty trail (that’s one of the reasons I joined the gym because running in the rain, sleet and snow only works if I’m carrying first class mail), I realized this hour is my “me” time.

I devote my working life to strangers (and some days that’s the nicest thing I can say about them) and my “home” time for my family. When I‘m asleep, I’m weightless and thoughtless, so this is really all the time I get. And if some mornings, I spend my time with Nick Mason, Richard Thompson or Elliot Smith, it’s only to recharge for the marathon ahead.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. With my knees, I’ll take metaphors to marathons every day in the week. And twice on Sundays. Now, let the day begin.

-bill kenny

Friday, September 5, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect

Considering I don't actually pay attention to American professional football anymore, you might need to sit down first. Unless you are seated, in which case you may need to lie down. But if you are driving, skip the previous sentence!
I probably should have worked that in a little earlier into the paragraph, sorry.

I guess what I trying to do is prepare you for this: I'm rooting for the Cincinnati Bengals this NFL season. The last time I rooted for anyone was the New York Jets the year Joe Willie Namath led them to a victory in Super Bowl III. That was XLV years ago.

Designated tangent: How did the Romans build aqueducts that survive to this day with math that used letters? 'Solve for X' said Mr. Clarke in 9th Grade. Hell, as near as I can tell everything back then was X or V or I. Oh yeah, The Jets have yet to return to a Super Bowl.

But thanks to what the Bengals did for Devon Still and his four-year old daughter, Leah Sari, and why, I don't see how anyone on earth can root for anybody else. Ever. Or at least until Boomer opens his mouth.
And don't worry, he will.
-bill kenny

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Not My Day to Play God

The expression goes, “I’d like to have his nerve in my tooth” and is usually offered as a reaction to someone whose chutzpah, bravado, and/or sometimes nearly terminal cluelessness results in their asking for a do-over on something whose initial occurrence you are still emotionally and mentally processing.

Anyway. If I were headed to my dentist for a root canal, I’d want to pop in on Joshua Komisarjevsky if not to borrow some ganglia then perhaps to watch how he manages to pull up his trousers because of the size of set (of pockets) he has.

I know. “Where do I know that name from?” Here. One of the authors of as egregious a tragedy to befall one family, and one community, as is possible to happen. I confess, with my attention span, I just assumed Josh and his partner in crime, Steve, were already taking a dirt nap.

I understand vengeance is and should be the exclusive purview of the Deity, but payback is far less cosmic and much more readily available. Especially when a predator wants to argue that he is actually a victim. Seriously. Follow his logic for yourself.  

Between his two defense attorneys, judging from their names, there appears to be some luck of the Irish in play in his effort, and while I support the judicial process and its safeguards even (maybe I mean most especially) when it’s being squandered, I am under no obligation to be gracious as an unwitting witness to the additional grief and hurt the sole survivor will have to bear.

Leaving me, with more than my fair share of Irish at the ready and hackles raised to wish at least the Moira part of the duo (as she’ll likely understand it), má ithis, nar chacair! Now pass your plate.

-bill kenny

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Orange Is the New ....

When was the last time you were hungry? Not the ‘gee, I shouldn’t have skipped lunch today’ hungry, but rather, the kind of hunger where all you can think about is where you can get something to eat and how soon. 

I’ve read the “Great Recession” ended in June 2009 ; what’s not clear to me is where that happened  since we all know someone on our street or who goes to our church who is struggling still.

This is Hunger Action Month, says the Connecticut Food Bank and they encourage everyone tomorrow to wear orange to raise awareness and fight hunger. As if that’s all it was, right? But you know better.

It’s more than wearing an orange shirt, blouse, tie or socks (or a jacket if you’re on a road crew, I guess), there’s also becoming more aware. One in five Connecticut children gets up hungry and goes to bed that same way, but don’t see that statistic solely as 20% because the number will anesthetize you to the humanity behind the catastrophe (and that’s what it is)-think of it as a lot of kids, because that’s really  what it is.

I know, “if these were our children, this would never happen” except, they are our children and it does happen, every day, and more and more often. In a state regarded as among the most affluent in our nation, we have families and neighbors we’ve yet to meet in every community living hand-to-mouth. 

The Connecticut Food Bank estimates there are (wait for it) 498,460 people hungry across the state. Half a million hungry people, every day of the year, here, where we live. And surviving today just means working that much harder to survive tomorrow.

Here in Eastern Connecticut those private agencies and helping hands such as St. Vincent DePaul Place, Gemma E. Moran and so many more have nearly doubled their client lists for food distribution and food pantry customers.  And still the need grows.

You may have seen the posters for the program or the work parties setting up in the parks and other places across Norwich all summer for the free summer meals that hundreds maybe thousands of school-age children benefited from that (hopefully and nutritionally) have prepared them to succeed in the recently-started school year.  Just one candle in the darkness.

So wear orange tomorrow. And then what? Pick an agency or a service that’s not just making a difference but IS the difference and find out how you can help. Our boat is sinking, not just the part over by the bow or the stern, but the whole damn boat. Everyone needs to put an oar in the water and row. Put your back into it.

Start by visiting a site like the Connecticut Food Bank and donating your time and talents but most especially dollars. Doing good costs money, so let’s be great.   

These are hard times in the land of plenty, wear orange tomorrow so we can see who’s helping. 
-bill kenny

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Clowns to the Left of Me, Penguins to the Right...

Some worked yesterday. Some hoped to but with the economy the way it is, their job was done but by someone 7,000 miles from here for a tenth of the money and no cost for benefits.

Some went to the beach and others went to a mountain top. Whether a transformation or celestial conversation occurred is not yet known. Based on my first sixty-two years around the water cooler, I'm thinking not so much.

Maybe you stayed home and worked on chores. Really? Yeah, me neither. I found this on line and went through the entire collection. You can too but this is the best one. What a way to return to the work week. You're welcome.
-bill kenny

Monday, September 1, 2014

Turns Out I'm Secretly from Vermont

I attended a gubernatorial conversation, the first of the election season, earlier this week in my hometown, sponsored by our local newspaper. Perhaps like your state, Connecticuters, Connecticuteers?, will cast ballots for governor this November; I say 'perhaps' because it will happen in 35 other states. Not sure what, if anything, changes.

Right now there are only the candidates from the two major parties and I'm not clear how many, if any, others will qualify for a place on the ballot. Sometimes I'm tempted to run, not that I have any interest in governance or aptitude and ability for it, but cynic that I am, how much worse might I make it?  Sometimes the answer seems a lot like "not so much that anyone would notice."

I'm starting to enjoy Senator Sanders from Vermont more and more and I'm not even a big Ben & Jerry's fan. Must be a character defect on my part but I do have to worry that so many in my country think the Good Lord gave them two hands so they could take as much as they want and that their tailors put two pockets in their suit trousers so they'd have someplace to put it all.

It's Labor Day, in case you forgot,when we pause to honor working American men and women assuming they are not currently on shift somewhere right now as I type this or you read it. It took a lot of different people to build this nation of ours but (maybe just me) it's taken far fewer to tear it down.

I listened the other night while one candidate for governor, after claiming the other was "anti-business" offered as his proof that Connecticut now has a law requiring businesses of a certain size to offer their employees sick leave. He called this policy "progressive" and said it twice in a tone suggesting he feels it's a four letter word. I could point out his last name is a five letter word but that would make me as mean-spirited and small-minded as he is.

Maybe it's that end of summer root beer float talking, but I'm thinking it's not been that long a journey from E Pluribus Unum to Sorbet esse vos!

I'm not sure how the grafters and greedheads think this ends, but surely not even they can think it turns out just peachy for anyone much less for everyone. (Insert your Shirley joke here because we could certainly use the humor).

If you have today off, and I do and am grateful for it, spare a thought for those who work in emergency medical and public safety professions, and/or for those who wear the uniform of our armed forces. There are a lot of people working so we don't have to and a lot more people who'd like to work on a regular basis for a living wage if we didn't export jobs to Third World nations whose people are so much poorer than we, it feels almost cruel to complain about hard times in America. Except these are those times.
-bill kenny